There are a million articles focusing on backup and data safety on the web, but the sad truth is, only six percent of all PC users back up their data regularly. And it’s really a striking figure, considering the fact that data these days can entail one’s memories and entertainment, not to mention even one’s job! But as the saying goes, better late than never, so we chalked out a perfect backup plan, which is easy to implement, fail-proof and cheap to manage.
Primary Backup: Local Media
The best way to back up your data is to back it up far away from your machine using a remote location. This is your anchor in case of a fire or a flood. However, you should also consider backing up data on local media, as it is the easiest and fastest way to recover lost data. In the odd event of a hard disk failure (where the PC and its surroundings are still intact), local backup will be very helpful in recovering the data quickly.
• A portable hard drive, preferably double the size of your computer’s hard disk
• A little bit of patience as first-time backup can take quite a bit of time
So, as soon as you have a portable hard drive, you are all set to make your first backup. Your choice of the drive is also crucial. Try to find one that’s double your PC’s hard disk drive (HDD). I generally recommend this because the amount of data you imagined would fill your HDD is generally overrun in a short time. And as more and more consumable content comes out every day, it’s hard not to fill up your HDD. You can always install a new HDD in your PC, but you can’t increase the size of a portable HDD on the fly. So it’s better to be safe than sorry. A solid state drive is also a perfect choice; however considering the current price point of SSDs, it’s pretty costly to purchase the perfect size SSD for backup purposes. A good review of portable hard drives can be found here and here. So now that you are ready with the portable hard drive, take a deep breath, and let’s begin.
Step 1: Connect the portable hard drive to your computer. Note, that if your hard drive supports and your PC has USB 3.0 ports, connect them. It will definitely increase data copy speed. Generally, USB 3.0 ports are differently colored.
Step 2: Press Windows icon. Type Backup, and select the first option, “Backup and Restore”. Then select “Set Up Backup”.
Select the name of your portable HDD, and click “Next”. On the next prompt, select “Let Windows choose”, and click “Next”.
Step 3: At the final prompt, click on “Save settings and run backup”. Note that here you can change the schedule of your backup by clicking “Change schedule”. If everything went correctly, you’ll be greeted with the following window.
Congrats! Your files are being backed up to your portable hard drive. Don’t forget to connect the HDD before the scheduled backup time every week.
Secondary Backup: Cloud Storage
The buzzword of recent years is the key to our second backup option: the cloud! Cloud storage is a very safe way to store data in remote servers spread across the globe. So even if physical catastrophe destroys your personal computer, your data will be safe in some other geographic locations. However, the market is filled with potential cloud storage players, like Mozy, BackBlaze and Carbonite, so making a choice is tough. Each player offers unlimited/limited storage spiced up with feature rich, multi-platform backup software. However, I will focus one very prominent player, CrashPlan.
CrashPlan was my choice of data backup provider because, unlike other players, it does not delete your data from its server even if you delete it from your PC. Also, CrashPlan’s software supports peer-to-peer backup; that is, you can use your friends’ computers to back up your data and vice versa. Let’s get it set up.
• A broadband Internet connection
• An investment of $3 per month (or more/less depending upon the backup provider)
Download the latest version of CrashPlan here. Double click the setup, and complete the installation.
After installation has been completed, you will be greeted with the following screen. Enter your details, and click on “Create Account”. From there, you will see the following screen.
Just click on start backup and you are all set.
Your files will be stored on CrashPlan’s cloud storage area called CrashPlan Central, which is a multi-geographic server, thus protecting your data from physical catastrophes, natural disasters, etc. For an added layer of protection, you can also invite your friends to install this app and back up your files on his/her computers, thus giving you yet one more layer of protection.
In the odd event that you need to restore you data, just click “Restore” and select the files you want to restore, and you are all set.
Thus, our small but efficient and cheap backup strategy will help you recover your data anytime, no matter how you lost it! Do you have a custom backup setup? NAS drives, Amazon S3 etc.? Do drop a line, and let me know.